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Accounting Best Practices, Fifth Edition by Steven M. Bragg Englewood, Colorado

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3–25. Link Supplier Requests to the Accounts Payable Database

A significant task for an accounts payable person, especially one working for a company that pays its bills late, is to answer payment queries from suppliers. They want to know when their invoices were paid, the amount of the payments, and the check numbers that were issued. For a company that is seriously delinquent in its payments, this can be a full-time job for the accounting staff, which is also a clear loss of productive time.

A recent innovation that largely eliminates verbal responses to suppliers is to have suppliers call a phone number that links them to a keypad-activated inquiry system that will answer their most common questions. For example, they can enter the company’s purchase order number, their invoice number, or the supplier’s name; the system will then respond with the specific payments made, the date on which the check was cut, and the check number. The system can even be extended to list the date on which payments are scheduled to be made.

However, there are some issues to consider before installing an automated supplier response system. One issue is that this is a very recent innovation and most suppliers will not be used to it—they want to talk to a person and will deluge the company’s operator to voice this opinion. To quell this type of response, the system should include an option to exit the automated system and contact a person. This allows the more technologically versed suppliers to use ...

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